Broncos on radar for Storm star but Bellamy not worried

Try as he might, Kevin Walters couldn’t stop the questions coming about Cameron Munster heading back to Queensland to join the state’s biggest club.

And while he did his best to douse talk of their pursuit of Munster, he conceded the Broncos would love to have someone of his calibre while insisting the club hadn’t met to discuss putting an offer to the 27-year-old.

A halves pairing of Munster alongside Adam Reynolds would be a dream scenario for the Broncos but in reality, the ongoing uncertainty about marquee prop Payne Haas’ future in Brisbane could hamper their salary cap planning.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy did not seem too fussed about Munster’s potential departure at the end of next season when asked at his media conference on Thursday in the lead-up to Friday night’s Suncorp Stadium showdown with the Broncos.

Cameron Munster of the Maroons takes a selfie with fans after game one of the 2022 State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Accor Stadium on June 08, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Unwilling to accept a contract extension from the Storm, Munster will test the open market and could be wooed north to the Broncos or to Redcliffe with the Dolphins expansion side for the 2024 season.

“Every club would be (interested) I reckon,” Walters said. “There’s two or three of those guys in that category (as the best players in the NRL); he’s had a great Origin and backed it up in the last couple of weeks.

“As a player and a coach you want to go against these guys and see what kind of plans we can come up with to limit them.”

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The Dolphins, who still have several roster spots open for next year and plenty of money to spend on new recruits, are the favourites to sign Munster.

He has been dominant at five-eighth all season and continued that form at fullback recently after starring in the State of Origin arena for Queensland in an emphatic response to a turbulent off-season.

Bellamy hopes to grab a quiet moment with his star man in the next week, saying it had been “probably six weeks” since the pair had last discussed his future.

“There’s a lot of noise, especially at the moment,” Bellamy said. “Hopefully I might be able to have a chat to him in the next couple of days or whatever. We’ll go all out for what we can do to keep him here.”

PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 11: Cameron Munster of the Storm warms up before the round 22 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Melbourne Storm at BlueBet Stadium on August 11, 2022, in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Cameron Munster. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

But the coach is hopeful they can convince Munster to stay, impressed by his response since the off-season white powder drama almost cost him his contract. He said Munster’s drinking ban after a rehabilitation stint had been a critical step in the process.

“A couple of times it (his drinking) got out of hand; I’m really proud of how he’s changed his life around,” he said.

“The change for his footy was really important, but even more important for his personal life.

“He’s got a wonderful partner in Bianca and a little boy Jackson, eight months old. He didn’t want to take a chance of losing that.”

Munster’s agent, Braith Anasta, said Melbourne had been “unbelievable throughout the process” but conceded they would need to significantly upgrade their offer, reportedly at $2.4 million over three seasons, to ensure he stayed in Victoria.

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“I think ideally Cameron and myself would like them to move more on the salary cap than where they are at right now (to stop him going to market),” Anasta said.

“When they signed Papenhuyzen, Hughes, Grant and Coates that unfortunately limited their ability to move on the cap because they prioritised those players.

“That is where we are at the moment. Hopefully they may be able to move somehow between now and November 1.

“It doesn’t mean that he won’t sign before then because he loves the club. He may sign after November.”

Bellamy’s men have won the last 11 head-to-head battles with Brisbane by an average of 22 points and have incredibly remained unbeaten at Suncorp Stadium against the Broncos since 2009.

Walters can rubber-stamp a finals return for Brisbane with victory as his side eyes a return to the playoffs after two years well and truly on the outer.

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